Crossroads: Building a Community or Distribution Mechanism – A Self Examination

It is my humble opinion that there are two types of use of Social Media outlets, those who use it to connect with a community and those who use it as a distribution mechanism.

Building a Community
Wiki defines: “The word “community” is derived from the Old French communit√© which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.” We are human creatures and we feel the need to connect with other like minded individuals. We use technology as a means to connect with this community. This technology to socialize with a community is what I define as Social Media. They use these technologies as facilitators to exchange language, common discourse.

Distribution Mechanism
Using “Social” Media outlets to only push information as mass communication. No interactivity, just one direction flow of information. Open an account, and broadcast…no reciprocation. This can be on a global basis where a account is used specifically to broadcast information, or even on a very local situation where a campaign only delivers information over Social Media accounts, information one way for a finite period of time.

Can you do both and still be social…and it still be considered Social Media. Why should we define this? Well, because ¬†we are users of this media…we should think about how we use it when interacting with a community. Think about it, do you get annoyed when someone continually updates their “Status” yet when you try to communicate…there is no response? Some even consider that Spam?

Wiki defines: “Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.” Do we spam the community each time we send out links, content, etc. without engaging in conversation within the community. Or is it when we broadcast over and over again, in bulk?

Marketers each day are beginning to include “Social Media(s)” as a distribution mechanism, another place to increase the SEO for their sites…is it all about SEO? Is it all about the massive homogenous linkage system we call the web to make Google happy on our behalf. Noise?

Now, I realize (that if anything) this is a self reflection to better understand an rationalize this medium. To better understand how we can use it more for the community engagement and less for the marketing, one-way pushing of information.

Social Networking Spam
Wiki also defines: “Social Networking Spam is spam directed at users of internet social networking services such as MySpace, FaceBook or LinkedIn. Users of social networking services can send notes, that may include embedded links to other social network locations or even outside sites, to one another. This is where the social network spammer comes in. Utilizing the social network’s search tools, he/she can target a certain demographic segment of the users, or use common fan pages or groups to send notes to them from an account disguised as that of a real person. Such notes may include embedded links to pornographic or other product sites designed to sell something.”

Do we Spam our friends everyday with our latest blog posts, our marketing links, our causes, our clients messages? It really does not feel like a conversation. I do it…write a blog post like this, and update my status so that I can share it with the world. I do it in bulk…because I update my status(s) multiple times in a week with a link. Do I create the noise that I am trying to resist?

Do we encourage our clients to use it as a distribution mechanism? Or do we eloquently phrase it so they feel like it is another touch point. Is this community really opting in to conversations when they freely click “Follow” or “Like”?

Sometimes I think we have to define and self examine our practices so that we better serve our clients and our community we so generously cherish. We are humans you know.